OKLAHOMA CITY (Free Press) – Well, it’s summer now, and in addition to the sweltering, triple-digit heat, dust storms, and bug swarms, that also inevitably means it’s Hollywood blockbuster season.
This year has already seen the full spectrum of blockbuster response, with “Top Gun: Maverick” lighting up critics and fans alike, and “Jurassic World: Dominion” seemingly leaving both reviewers and audiences cold (and worse, bored.)
But if you’re not one to rush out to the multi-million dollar parade of Hollywood sequels, or if you’ve already had your fun with those tent poles and are looking for something a bit more wild or weird, OKC’s venerable Rodeo Cinema has you covered with a slate of strange, gory, and disgusting films that make even fighter jets and dinosaurs seem safe.
Music and Film
with Brett Fieldcamp
With two historic theaters lining up works from left-field auteurs both classic and emerging, Rodeo’s early summer schedule features everything from a gross-out classic, some insane, visionary puppet work, and the unimpeachable king of body horror.
“Crimes of the Future” – Rodeo Cinema Stockyards, June 22nd through 24th
In the world of visceral, physical “body horror,” one name reigns supreme: David Cronenberg.
With grotesque cult classics like “The Fly,” “Videodrome,” and the infinitely controversial “Crash,” Cronenberg established himself as one of cinema’s most fearless and challenging filmmakers, presenting audiences with countless legendary scenes and scenarios so bodily impossible, gory, and painful, that his work arguably transcends the horror genre toward legitimate artistic respect.
That said, it’s been a decidedly long time since the director has waded into those gory waters, instead spending the past couple decades exploring psychological drama and the dark underbellies of both society and the human mind. That time produced some fascinating cinema, including “A History of Violence,” “Eastern Promises,” and the underseen “Cosmopolis” (where he was among the first to elevate Robert Pattinson into the serious, brooding art-film star he’s become) but fans have been long awaiting his return to the horrific sub-genre he helped create.
Cronenberg finally jumps headfirst back into body horror with his new “Crimes of the Future,” an offering so disturbing and disgusting that early screenings saw reports of audiences either fainting or walking out in droves.
With a befuddling pseudo-sci-fi plot concerning trans-humanism, evolution, and performance art, the film is primarily a showcase for Cronenberg’s own flights of disgusting fancy, as lead actor and repeat collaborator Viggo Mortensen begins to grow, reveal, and dissect a collection of new, external organs.
So far, this one has proved divisive even among lifelong Cronenberg fans.
“Mad God” – Rodeo Cinema Film Row, June 23rd & 24th
Unless you’re a diehard fan of movie monster-makers and creature effects, the name Phil Tippett likely doesn’t mean anything to you, even though he’s a two-time Oscar winner and filmmaking legend that helped to create groundbreaking cinematic worlds like “Star Wars,” “Jurassic Park,” “RoboCop,” and “Starship Troopers.”
For the past 30 years, though, in between countless creature consultation and design jobs, Tippett has been planning, preparing, and perfecting a shocking, post-apocalyptic vision in the form of his own magnum opus, “Mad God.”
A fully, and impressively, stop-motion animated horrorshow, “Mad God” follows a subterranean explorer and his descent through what appears to be a nuclear wasteland of desolated cities, irradiated mutants, and loads of indescribably frightening imagery.
This waking nightmare of a “cartoon” is already collecting lavish praise from modern masters like Guillermo del Toro and Rian Johnson as being unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.
“Pink Flamingos” – Hosted by Laron Chapman & Mickey Reece – Rodeo Cinema Stockyards, June 23rd
If you’re not familiar with the undisputed queen of gross-out cult classics, 1972’s “Pink Flamingos,” or at least with the uncompromisingly crazy work of writer, director, and camp hero John Waters, then describing the film is likely to leave you cautiously hesitant.
Billed even by Waters himself on the film’s original poster as “an exercise in poor taste,” the film presents Baltimore drag icon Divine in a battle with a competitive local couple for the glowing designation of “filthiest.”
Whatever scenarios your mind conjures to achieve such a distinction, believe me when I say the film’s reality is probably much worse.
If you’re already a convert of Waters’ cult, however, or if you find yourself oddly and adventurously intrigued, local star filmmakers Chapman and Reece will be banding together to present a screening of the filthy favorite, along with audience participation and perhaps even some wild drag makeovers.
“Elvis” – Rodeo Cinema Stockyards, June 24th
Okay, so maybe it’s not intentionally a horror movie, but there’s a lot to be scared of here with director Baz Luhrman’s trademark obnoxious, unrelenting, and heavy-handed style, Elvis’s own unsavory (and mostly ignored) history, and Tom Hanks’ ill-conceived makeup and weird accent.
For showtimes, tickets, and more info on all of these films and more, visit rodeocinema.com.
Last Updated June 21, 2022, 7:00 PM by Brett Dickerson – Editor